Twelfth Night is William Shakespeare at his humanistic height as a playwright. Although a ‘comedy’, the play begins with death, disappointment and disaster. Olivia has lost her brother, Viola is separated from her twin in a strange company, Orsino is trapped in an unrequited love, Maria is left watching her mistress fall apart and close off, Sir Toby is almost broke, and Sir Andrew is almost out of friends. At the center of this world is the shipwreck – salt water has beaten down these characters, both from the sea and from their own sadness. The salt water then splits everyone. Olivia falls in love, Orsino forges a respect for someone beneath his station, Viola becomes a man, Maria hatches revenge, and Malvolio believes he is beloved by his mistress.

So the comedy is born from sadness, and therefore retains a bittersweet-ness throughout the production. All the comedy is a mask for sadness, and sadness is only a mask for desire.

The play asks “who is the master, and who is the mistress… and are they any different from one another?” The play is Shakespeare’s only real “musical”, featuring songs shared by the mysterious clown Feste. Music as a force of the heart, and as the healing force for sadness and loss 

The production is a 90 minute cut of the show, featuring love singing and music. 10 actors tell the story with only a few benches, a piano, and a few props. The set will be sparse and evocative of the hull of a 17th century ship – wooden planks, amber lighting, squeezeboxes and hammocks. 

As a city almost entirely surrounded by the sea, Salem is a perfectly situated city for this production. An intense mixture of the affluent and the less than fortunate. A city removed from the central hub of the state. Like Shakespeare’s Illyria, Salem is a community defined by the sea that both sustains and threatens it.

Special performance nights are Sunday, March 29: Press Opening, Thursday, April 2: Student Night - $5 tickets available for ALL students and Thursday, April 9: LGTB Night - Discount Tickets offered. Salem Theatre is also thrilled to introduce a new community initiative. For every SOLD OUT performance of Twelfth Night, Salem Theatre will give a performance of the play to a local school for free. We will update our seating capacity for each show daily, so be sure to check in and help us offer the brilliant and delightful play to kids throughout the community.